Parker Murray standing out for Wenatchee

Wenatchee’s Parker Murray goes to the net against a Coquitlam Express goalie. Photo courtesy of Wenatchee Wild.

Parker Murray has been on an offensive tear lately for the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. He has 13 goals in the team’s nine BCHL playoff games so far going into Wednesday night. The Wild dispatched the Cranbrook Bucks in six games in the first round. That set them up for a second round clash with the Penticton Vees.

While the team has been an underdog in both their first and second round series, Murray said there’s no pressure and that they’re just going to go out there, have fun and do their best. The Vees are a tough team and Murray knows that, but that didn’t seem to bother him. With the way Murray has been playing, it’s hard to think that Penticton hasn’t taken notice. However, Murray is prepared for any defense that the Vees throw at him.

“I’m just going to be able to see what works and what doesn’t work and take it game by game,” Murray said. “See how they approach things and if they’re guarding me, then there’s someone else who has to be open, so hopefully someone else gains success off that.”

Head coach Chris Clark had nothing but praise for the way that Murray plays the game of hockey.

“He is extremely gifted when it comes to shooting the puck,” Clark said. “He scores goals that most people can’t the way he shoots the puck. I think you combine his ability to shoot it with his chemistry with Ean Somoza.”

Clark noted that Murray and Somoza have played together most of their lives. He said they know where each other will be on the ice and that watching that is pretty fun. Clark said that Murray has put in the work and gets better from that week in and week out throughout the year. He said he and Parker have talked about getting in better positions to get the puck. Clark said that starts in their own end.

In the team’s first round series, Clark said they were really hard to play against defensively. As a result of that, they were able to spend more time in the offensive zone.

“When he gets in the offensive zone, his special talents take over and some of those things you just can’t teach that he does, that’s just his God-given ability,” Clark said.

Clark said that Somoza and Murray’s line did a really good job of being hard to play against defensively in their first round series, which led to them having more chances offensively.

Murray echoed Clark in saying that his success has come from getting opportunities for himself to put himself in a good spot to shoot the puck. He also said part of it is believing in himself that every shot he takes has a good chance of going in. Murray said what makes his game special is the ways in which he can create chances for himself and teammates. He wants to help his team in any way possible and be an all-around team guy.

Murray has junior hockey experience with the Provo Riverblades of the USPHL and the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. During that time, Murray said he learned a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of his game and being able to develop those into all strengths. He also touched on learning from his coaches and competing every single day to make himself better.

Murray said that Clark has been hard on him since the beginning, so he’s been able to take in everything he’s said, that everyday matters, taking it one step at a time and developing that way.

Something that might fly under the radar for many is his penalty minutes. Murray has been able to stay out of the box pretty well, and Clark said he plays with a lot of discipline. But it’s not as easy as people might think with his size and as big as he is Clark said. Murray stands at 6′ 4″ and 193 lbs.

“Generally when you’re bigger than everybody, it’s easy to get penalties called against you, but I think he plays a really intelligent game,” Clark said. “He’s really smart, it doesn’t take away from his ability to be physical, he’s definitely still physical, but he doesn’t take a whole bunch of undisciplined penalties, which then allows him to be on the ice more and actually plays in all situations for us.”

Those situations include when the team is at full strength, 5-on-4 and even penalty kills.

“I think a huge factor in that, is that he does play with such great discipline,” Clark said.

Clark said he helps net front sometimes, gets in front of the goal, tips pucks and gets rebounds.

“But he also has the ability to roll off and get himself into shooting areas,” Clark said. “He’s just a really smart player. He has that ability as a goal scorer to know where to go before it even happens so that he can be in the right spot when that puck does get there.”

Clark said that even before the playoffs started, he was playing at a really high level of hockey and that the playoffs just magnified it.

“He’s been playing at a very high level since Christmas and we’ve been very excited for him,” Clark said. “I just think if he continues to play his complete game, that he’s going to have success. The goal-scoring part, that’s a natural talent for him, but his consistency and how consistent he’s been, really since Christmas you’ve seen his game take off to a whole new level. I think as he continues to do that, he’ll just continue to have more and more success and we couldn’t be happier for him. He’s put the work in and he deserves to have success and it’s great to see him having it.”

Murray said that this type of stuff doesn’t happen often, so he’s just trying to be himself, that his teammates be themselves and that hopefully good things happen.

Murray also won BCHL Star of the Week honors, which he said meant a lot to him.

“I feel like I’ve had a lot of ups and downs this season and just being able to produce at the right time this season has really made a positive impact on me and hopefully it continues into the next round,” Murray said.

Clark said what people probably admire most about Murray is that he’s a level-headed kid and doesn’t have too many bad days. He said that it’s important that people know just how good of a kid he is.

“He’s a lot of fun to be around, he doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low,” Clark said. “His level of consistency as far as his attitude goes, it’s pretty similar every day.”

Clark noted that you’d have no idea he scored 12 goals in six games because he acts the exact same way every day. He said that guys love being around him because he’s always in a good mood. Clark said that it’s a credit to him how he comes to the rink with the right mindset every day. When things aren’t going his way, he doesn’t get down in the dumps kicking the sand and when he has a really good day, he’s not out there with a ‘look at me’ attitude.

“He just comes to the rink every day, very business-like with the same fun-loving attitude and I think guys enjoy being around that,” Clark said.

Murray said he’s been able to grow a lot with his teammates and build connections there, which has really helped on the ice as well. But it’s not just his teammates that he’s enjoyed.

“I really enjoy the passion that everyone brings here in the community, I feel like there’s a lot of fans in this community that really understand hockey and take a liking to hockey and it helps after games and seeing the joy they have for us, it really helps with just helping our dreams come true,” Murray said.